The Holiday Blues: Christmas & New Year
Whether it’s Post-Christmas/Holiday sadness when family departs back home, or whether it’s prolonged festive fear throughout the holidays worrying who you’re going spend those special moments with, Mind Space want to remind you all it’s normal to feel isolated at this time of year but we’re not alone.
With the new year comes new opportunities, that’s what our activity today will focus on.
Some signs of the holiday blues might include:
- Feelings of exhaustion and fatigue
- Sleeping much more or much less than normal
- Losing interest in activities that you normally enjoy
- Lack of pleasure in normal activities
- Trouble making decisions
- Difficulty concentrating
- Withdrawing from friends and family
- Feelings of loneliness
- Feeling irritable or angry
Even when participating in things that they would normally enjoy, people with the holiday blues have trouble enjoying themselves. Activities that are specifically related to the holiday itself, such as social events, family meals, and gift-giving, may actually trigger feelings of anxiety or sadness.
Ways to cope:
- Make plans ahead of time.
- Avoid family conflict as much as possible.
- Focus on the good/positive
- Let go of perfectionism/high expectations
- Learn how to grieve
- Don’t skimp on sleep
- Limit media consumption (phone/TV/video-games/social-media)
- Ask for help
- Get light exposure/vitamin D
- Don’t binge on food, alcohol or drugs
Use distraction techniques, mindfulness, meditation, grounding and relaxation techniques to focus yourself when experiencing extreme feelings of emotion.
Whether or not Christmas is part of your life, you might be affected by it happening around you. It’s a time of year that often puts extra pressure on us. For example, you might:
- feel alone because everyone else seems happy when you’re not
- wish Christmas could move because it’s bad timing
- want to celebrate with someone who’s struggling.
- …listening to other people’s exciting plans makes me feel like an alien being, as I don’t have all those wonderful relationships in my life.
- The Christmas period could impact your mental health in other ways too. For example:
- Your mental health problem might make it hard for you to spend Christmas how you want.
- Difficult and stressful experiences at Christmas can make your mental health worse.
- Enjoying Christmas might affect your mental health, for example if it triggers hypomania or mania for you.
- It can be harder to access services, and some will be closed.
- I won’t be physically alone, but I will feel very lonely. I probably should be enjoying “my family”
What can I do?
If Christmas is a hard time for you, it’s important to remember that you are not alone, and there are things you can try that might help. We’ve written this information to help you:
- learn about why Christmas is hard for many people
- find tips that might help you cope at Christmas
- find ways to be supportive to others
- discover useful contacts and their Christmas opening hours.
- Feeling in crisis around Christmas
If you’re worried about acting on thoughts of suicide, you can call an ambulance, go straight to A&E or call the Samaritans for free on 116 123 to talk. These services are open 24/7, including Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.
If you’re feeling isolated or cut off, try your local community centres (libraries, internet cafes, museums, galleries), local support groups, free activities (table tennis and walking groups), volunteering, online communities (such as Ele Friends: https://www.elefriends.org.uk/), and reaching out to old friends, family members, neighbours or colleagues).
SMART New Year’s Resolutions (Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time bound)